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Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

Mt. 13:44-46

What is the meaning of your life? What is the note that strikes deep in your heart and brings all the other notes of your life into harmony? That one thing is the quest of your lifetime!

Today's Gospel gives a clue to the answer. According to Jesus it should be your discovery of the Kingdom of God. Saint Matthew recorded His words earlier in the Sermon on the Mount … “seek first the Kingdom of God and all else will be given to you.” Now he refers to the parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Price, the supreme finds of a lifetime.

Those discoveries make all other possessions seem trivial, and they are traded in return for the unsurpassing value of owning these treasures. It is the reaction of the finder of the treasure that Jesus wants us to notice. Both are so happy, so overwhelmed by the discovery, that everything which seemed so valuable just moments before, now pales into insignificance.

Notice that the paths to their discoveries vary greatly between the two parables. In the first, a tenant farmer is ploughing the field of a landowner. He is just doing his daily work when, all of a sudden, his plough strikes a treasure chest. He must have opened it to see what was inside. Imagine his excitement! His first thought is that no one else should discover this find and he quickly covers it with soil. Immediately he sells all his possessions to buy that plot. No price he could pay for the land is too high, because he knows the value of the hidden treasure in the field. The man is not very honest, of course, buying from the landowner without disclosing the find of treasure.

Jesus often used shady characters in his parables, because they were real people, but He is not teaching a moral lesson in business ethics. He is simply illustrating the reaction of the man who discovered this treasure, and the way it turned all his former plans and possessions upside down, when he just stumbled across this treasure doing his daily work.

By contrast the merchant who found the pearl of great price was an expert. His entire life was given to the search for a rare find. When he finally found that pearl of his dreams, he instantly knew its value, and traded all that he had just to be able to possess that one pearl.

The two paths to the treasure illustrate that there is more than one way to discover the Kingdom of God. Some people come to faith almost accidentally. Perhaps they live in the shadow of the Church and with no great struggle they suddenly stumble across the faith. Finding this treasure is almost too easy! But for others the path to faith, their pearl of great price, is a result of a lifetime’s quest. Like Saint Augustine they find the truth about God and the value of a relationship with Him after much searching. What joy that find brings them!

No matter how each of us finds the Kingdom of God, it is worth more than any other possession. And no matter what path the discovery takes, the response is the same in the heart and life of the new owner. The one thing in life that really matters has been found - all else can be traded to possess this great treasure.

Today, Jesus is asking you and me have we found that hidden treasure or pearl of great price, and do we value our faith as much as these two men valued their treasures? Are we as overjoyed and excited as they were? All that matters in is that we belong to God - that is the real purpose of our life.

Lord Jesus, the only thing that matters is that we know You, love You and serve You in this life, to be happy with You in the next. You are that hidden treasure and precious pearl that we are desperate to possess. What a waste our lives would be if we search for anything other than You to give true meaning to our lives. May we sacrifice all the world's supposed treasures for You.

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